David Koch is farewelled in star-studded Sunrise special

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After 21 years at the helm of Australia’s most-watched breakfast television show, David Koch has farewelled Sunrise in an emotional and star-studded three-hour special.

Koch, who is the longest-serving breakfast television show host in Australian history, announced his departure from the show in late May. Former Olympian Matt Shirvington will replace him in the host’s seat.

David KochCredit: James Brickwood

A long line of Seven Network staff filled the studio halls, waiting to greet Koch as he walked to the studio for the final time – which he did, like royalty, hugging colleagues, shaking hands and even kissing the head of a child. Fittingly, one of the last people to embrace him was Shirvington, in a metaphorical passing of the baton.

“This has been my life, it’s not just a job,” Koch said to his co-host, Natalie Barr, in a teary one-on-one interview. “It’s a life that I have loved and I am incredibly proud of. I love working with the people that I work with, and not sitting next to you every day is going to be a massive adjustment.”

A wave of celebrities and Sunrise favourites joined Barr to reminisce on the two decades Koch spent in the host’s seat and wish him well for his future adventures. In what was likely the most impactful farewell, Koch was handed a large orange card, which he later revealed had been sent to him from his idol, Dame Julie Andrews herself.

“I am thinking of you today,” the Princess Diaries actress wrote. “For 21 years you have set the bar for the most popular show in Australia. Your humour, enthusiasm and kindness has been ever-present and I know that everyone thanks you for being the special person that you are, and so do I.”

Koch returned to her letter multiple times during the show, re-reading her final line as if he were about to cry: “fondest love to you Kochie”.

Many celebrities joined Koch in the studio throughout his tenure, including Harry Styles, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Hugh Jackman. A number appeared on-screen on Friday morning to personally thank the presenter for his interviews over the years, such as Rita Ora, Jason Derulo, Sam Fischer and Guy Sebastian.

“You’re a diamond. We’ll see you on the dance floor,” members of electronic band Peking Duk said, followed by Delta Goodrem sending Koch many kisses and Amy Shark saying she isn’t sure whether “Australian TV will ever be the same again”.

Even the nation’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese, paid his appreciation.

“Congratulations on your amazing career on this show. You can see outside here that there are a lot of people that want to wish you well, and I certainly personally wish you well.”

Sunrise favourites, such as the team’s unofficial “Cash Cow” mascot made an appearance, telling Koch to “moooooove over”, and former co-host, Samantha Armytage, shared a few tips on life after the show.

“The trick is to get out of the Big Smoke. Go somewhere where it’s quiet, go back to nature, and just get your sleep back,” she said.

“This job is so incredibly difficult, and you can’t say it when you’re in the job because no one wants to be complaining. But when you’re not in the job anymore, you can say how hard this is. There is so much scrutiny. To get up day after day and do this – the resilience, the drive, the ability, the energy to just keep coming in here every day and do that is extraordinary. I absolutely salute you.”

More to come.

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